American Airlines announces positive changes to the AAdvantage program

airplanes parked at an airport

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American Airlines has put out a press release addressing its plans for the AAdvantage program in 2024 and surprisingly, the news is actually good. Benefits are not being enhanced away, elite status is not being made harder to earn, award charts aren’t being decimated, and there’s no suggestion that the airline plans to hold the members of its frequent flyer program in the same contempt as Delta holds SkyMiles members.

So, what are the plans for AAdvantage in 2024?

New Loyalty Point Reward choices from March

When the new program year rolls around on 1 March, AAdvantage members will be able to select bonus Loyalty Points as a reward to help boost their progress to higher elite status.

Specifically, this is what the options will be:

  • When you earn 15,000 Loyalty Points you’ll be able to choose 1,000 bonus Loyalty Points as your reward.
  • When you earn 175,000 Loyalty Points you’ll be able to choose 5,000 bonus Loyalty Points as your reward.
  • When you earn 250,000 Loyalty Points you’ll be able to choose 15,000 bonus Loyalty Points as your reward (can be chosen twice).

These options are being added to all the other options that are already in place and while I can’t see mention of any thing being removed (per the airline’s press release), VFTW reports that at the 175,000 Loyalty Point milestone the option to choose a 15% rebate on an award redemption is being removed (see here for the other Loyalty Point Rewards).

With just one option being removed and with new options being added, this is mostly a positive move and will probably please anyone who normally only just earns/re-qualifies for AAdvantage Elite status.

The best new option appears to be the one at the 15,000 Loyalty Point level because the existing options are weak, but I can also see a bonus of 5,000 Loyalty Points being popular with some flyers that reach the 175,000-point marker.

Flagship Dining passes on the way (select elites only)

Another change that is apparently ‘coming soon’ is the one that will see elites with Platinum Pro status and above able to redeem miles for Flagship Dining passes.

No information has yet been provided telling us how many miles a dining pass will cost so it’s impossible to tell if this is a genuinely nice new option or if this just a new way for American to extract some miles from flyers with more miles than they can use in other (possibly more economical) ways.

Positive changes to upgrades

At some point in 2024, American Airlines will introduce three key changes to upgrades:

  1. Upgrades that are paid for with cash will earn Loyalty Points and AAdvantage Miles
  2. AAdvantage members will be able to redeem miles for upgrades on select partner airlines.
  3. Systemwide upgrades will become requestable online.

All three of these changes are very positive but it’s the introduction of partner upgrades that excites me the most.

Depending on which partners are included (I suspect that American’s transatlantic JV partners will probably be the first to allow upgrades using AAdvantage miles), and depending on what rules are brought in to govern these upgrades (will there be a minimum fare requirement and how much will upgrades actually cost), this could be a very nice (and genuine) enhancement to the AAdvantage program.

The question that follows on from this is the one that asks if members of partner loyalty programs will now be able to upgrade on American using their currencies?

Some benefits becoming exclusive to AAdvantage members

As some unspecified point in 2024, American Airlines will make a few changes that will make it beneficial to be an AAdvantage member if you plan to fly with American Airlines.

  • AAdvantage members will have 6 more months than non-members to use their Trip Credit when canceling travel online.
  • Only AAdvantage members will be able to purchase one-day Admirals Club passes.
  • Only AAdvantage members will be able to purchase access to American’s Flagship Lounges.
  • Only AAdvantage members will be able to put flights on hold free of charge for up to 24 hours.

For travel on or after 1 March 2024, only AAdvantage members* will be allowed to stand-by for an earlier flight.

Keep in mind your new flight must, depart on the same day, operate from and to the same airports as the original flight, have the same number of stops (at the same airports) as the original flight, and be operated by American Airlines or American Eagle.

With the AAdvantage program being free to join, none of the above are a big deal but it’s interesting to see American taking further steps to push more and more people to join its frequent flyer program.

*Same-day standby will continue to be available to oneworld® status members, active U.S. military and Main Cabin Select customers even if they’re not members of the AAdvantage program.

Cancellation benefits on select Basic Economy fares are coming

Later this month, American Airline will begin to allow AAdvantage members to cancel select Basic Economy fares online and to receive a partial trip credit (for a $99 fee!)

The caveat to this is that the booking must be for a domestic flight, your trip must not have commenced, and the booking must have been made directly with American Airlines.

Bottom line

Fans of the AAdvantage program can, for the time being, stand down from whatever elevated DEFCON mode they have been in as they awaited news from American Airlines as it looks like their preferred frequent flyer program isn’t being devalued in 2024.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop American Airlines introducing some nasty surprises at some later date this year, but today’s announcement is full of overwhelmingly positive news.

More Loyalty Points Rewards options, partner upgrades on the way, online SWU redemptions, and more flexibility on select Basic Economy bookings are all things that will make the AAdvantage program better, so as I’m usually very quick to criticize American each time it makes its frequent flyer program worse, now would be a good time for me to say well done to whichever group of people in Dallas decided not to ‘do a Delta’.

1 COMMENT

  1. If flying basic economy, will I be able to buy my way into any Admirals Club? If flying basic economy, will I be able to buy my way into Flagship Dinning at DFW? assuming space is available.

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